El Salvador New Legislative Assembly 2021

Institutional Restructuring in El Salvador

San Salvador, El Salvador.

On May 1, 2021, the new Legislative Assembly, Bancada Cyan of the Nuevas Ideas party of El Salvador took office.  They obtained the majority of seats with 66.46% of the votes by the Salvadoran population. President Nayib Bukele’s party leads the parliament with 55 deputies out of a total of 84, including opposition parties. Leading with a pragmatic and concrete vision to facilitate government projects, they seek to leave a political legacy focused on social change.

During the first plenary session of the Legislative Assembly for the 2021-2024 period, the legislative plenary session approved the dismissal of the Attorney General of the Republic, Raúl Melara, citing unconstitutionalities based on Articles 192 and 167 of El Salvador’s Constitution, which indicates that second-degree officials cannot have material ties with political parties and must be impartial in their duties.

 

Diputados de la nueva Asamblea Legislativa. Foto EDH:Jessica Orellana

 

The legislative assembly cited documentary evidence of the breech through the civil organization, Acción Ciudadana. The legislative assembly argued that a material link with a political party disqualifies officers from serving as attorney general of the State.

That same night, the Salvadoran parliament dismissed the five magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber and their five alternates, by means of a nominal and public vote. The measure followed the issuing of a series of resolutions they cited as endangerment of the lives of the population during the most complicated point of the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

 

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The legislative assembly defended its actions stating that Salvadoran lives had been placed second to private industries:

“The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Legislative Court (CSJ) acted illegally during the COVID-19 pandemic, misrepresenting the Constitution through unconstitutional sentences. The magistrates ruled in favor of the lucrative activity of the companies, leaving human life in the background, despite this being the fundamental right from which all other constitutional rights emanate.”

The assembly continued, “life is the main legal value and was minimized by the rulings of the Constitutional Chamber, despite the fact that El Salvador – like the rest of the world – was facing the largest pandemic in the last 100 years, putting the health of Salvadorans at imminent risk.”

 

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With many young deputies, the new legislative assembly sends a message that a new generation of politicians has taken the reins of the country from the legislative body. This marks a generational change of great dimensions through which they seek to prioritize early childhood education, as well as the successful Plan Control Territorial for public safety, among other important agenda items.

 

 

The new legislative assembly voted for the substitutions in favor of restructuring a legacy of harmful practices where those in charge have distributed public offices at convenience and where officials have not worked for the well-being of the country but for the benefit of a small group of people who violated the laws and become untouchable due to their economic power.

 

 

The entrenchment of political corruption has been a traditional dynamic in our country, but this has now changed in 2021, when the traditional parties lost the majority in the Legislative Assembly as El Salvador is now undergoing an institutional restructuring by the current deputies of Nuevas Ideas.

 

 

In terms of international relations, we are tightening relations with China, as the Asian giant has donated important batches of vaccines for the benefit of Salvadorans. Cooperation agreements that began in 2019 are being ratified as large-scale investments in tourism, agriculture, education and sports are underway.

The construction of infrastructure will bring much development to El Salvador.

 

 

Over the last few years, China has been strengthening economic partnerships with several countries in the region, such as Brazil, Argentina, Chile.

In 2019, China signed 28 economic cooperation agreements with Panama. The tweet below publishes a press release by the Embassy of the Republic of China in Salvador, detailing China’s approach to assistance in El Salvador.  Below the tweet is the English Translation. 

 

 

Press Release on China’s Non-Reimbursable Assistance Cooperation with El Salvador

“1. China develops friendly cooperation with all countries on the basis of the five principles of Peaceful Coexistence which are mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-invasion, non-interference in internal affairs, equality and shared benefit and peaceful coexistence. As the largest developing country in the world, within the framework of South-South cooperation, China provides within its reach, assistance to developing countries throughout the world and these projects do not imply any political condition or geopolitical consideration.

2. Chinese aid projects are in the nature of non-reimbursable aid; they are not profitable commercial or investment projects. The Chinese side is in charge of the whole process of prospecting, design and construction of the projects.

The Framework Agreement for the Establishment of the Bilateral Cooperation Mechanism for the Execution of Economic and Technical Assistance Projects between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of El Salvador have the same principles of implementation for projects carried out in other countries:

Communication and coordination with the government of the recipient country is always maintained, strictly complying with all the laws and regulations of both countries,  and without risk of corruption. Once the projects are completed, they are delivered completely under the turnkey modality to the beneficiary country. The projects under the framework of China’s non-reimbursable assistance, when delivered to the recipient country, represent great opportunities for employment, infrastructure improvement, stimulation of economic growth and promotion of the well-being of the people benefiting from this aid.

3. China and El Salvador established diplomatic relations on the basis of the One China principle. All non-reimbursable assistance projects from China to El Salvador were proposed by the Salvadoran Government according to the needs of its people and were not decided unilaterally by China.

4. Currently, the projects of the National Library; the National Stadium; the water treatment plant in Lake Ilopango and the La Libertad dock are being implemented. All of these are projects correspond to the welfare of the Salvadoran people and will not only benefit this generation but also future generations.The non-reimbursable assistance projects from China to El Salvador do not have any geopolitical consideration. China has also provided other developing countries with similar projects and has never used them to pursue alleged geopolitical interests.

5. The largest beneficiary of China’s non-reimbursable assistance is the Salvadoran people. China firmly opposes the impositions by powerful countries on nations that are fighting for their development under less favorable conditions. China has never used foreign assistance in the past nor will it use foreign assistance in the future to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, much less profit from them for itself. As we have reiterated since the beginning of our diplomatic relations, China is willing to continue working with El Salvador to successfully implement relevant projects in the areas of advancing together and hand in hand on the path to shared prosperity.”

 

Members of the Bancada Cyan head to work. Image, Nuevas Ideas, Facebook page.

 

In El Salvador a before and after is marking a new way of doing politics. In past governments, social investment was never a priority. On the contrary, prior administrations favored business interests linked to political parties that governed at that time. Now we are witnessing the delivery of solidarity packages of food to low-income families, an exemplary vaccination process in which more people have been vaccinated than in other Central American countries, making El Salvador a reference for the region.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) have predicted an economic growth of El Salvador for 2021 of 4.2% when in previous governments without the impact of the pandemic, economic growth did not exceed 2.2%.

In face of divisive political rhetoric, the government of President Nayib Bukele is focused on expanding development and exponential growth. In almost two years of having taken leadership of the country, the changes in El Salvador are evident.

 

 

President Nayib Bukele has been evaluated among the best leaders in Latin America during the pandemic. In this next chapter, he must appease all the accusations of authoritarianism that he is receiving from the political opposition and some members of the international community.

With a majority of deputies and mayors, the expansion of government policies of a social nature should be carried out and become a priority.

 

 

El Salvador is on its way to becoming a benchmark not only in public safety and in health response to COVID-19, but through its new educational agenda.

 

 

It’s been nearly two years since President Bukele assumed the presidency and the way of doing politics in El Salvador has definitely changed. We now have a pragmatic, efficient leadership style with a social focus and an international policy with greater openness towards all.

 


Luis Enrique Contreras Reyes
Political Analyst and International Consultant, El Salvador

Mr. Contreras can be contacted via twitter: @LuisSaxum or via email: [email protected]